Chapter # 4 Paragraph # 2 Study # 3
August 19, 2012
10 Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years.
11 I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.
1901 ASV Translation:
10 Ye observe days, and months, and seasons, and years.
11 I am afraid of you, lest by any means I have bestowed labor upon you in vain.
- I. The "Proof" of Paul's Charge of Reversionism.
- A. The statement of the "proof" is that the Galatians have begun to "observe days ... and years".
- B. Calling it "proof" is legitimate because the Galatians, being Gentiles, were never subjected to the national constitution of Israel and their "observances" indicate that they have begun to see it as their "responsibility" before the "God" from whom they seek "blessedness".
- 1. Every time the word Paul selected to give evidence of his "proof" is used in the New Testament it carries the meaning, "to eagerly watch in order to miss nothing of what transpires". Thus, it is clear that Paul intended to communicate the fact that the Galatians had entered into an extremely unhealthy fixation upon making sure they did nothing to offend the "elements" of the "gods".
- 2. There can only be two basic motivations for "extreme fixation": being convinced that the extreme attention to detail has the ability to bring blessing; or, being convinced that the absence of extreme attention to detail has the ability to bring disaster. These are not the same thing; they are as different as "longing for good" is from "seeking to avert evil". The former seeks to advance "good" and the latter is simply self-preservation run amuck. "Hungering and thirsting for righteousness" is not the same thing as "desperately seeking to keep disaster at bay". The former rests in "grace" and the latter greatly fears the imposition of "law".
- C. That Paul went to that aspect of "Law" that details "the forms of religion under Law" rather than to that aspect that details the true nature of righteousness indicates that he understood how easy it would be for his adversaries to corrupt his arguments if he had used them against a fixation upon what is essentially "right" in a relational universe.
- 1. It would be impossible to establish a flawed theology if the "behavior" that was being used to establish it was actually required by God ... it cannot ever be argued that essentially righteous behavior can be dismissed.
- 2. But, when the behavior was never established by God, extreme fixation means false theology (Matthew 23:23).
- II. The Expression of Paul's Ambivalence.
- A. The expression needs accuracy of "translation".
- 1. The verb translated "I am afraid" is followed by the Accusative form of the personal pronoun.
- a. Typically, the accusative is the case of the direct object: "I fear you" as a statement of the object of Paul's fear. The only other use in Galatians is 2:12 where the construction is the same and the meaning is that "fear" caused a certain kind of behavior.
- b. Paul is not unclear: his reason for "fear" is that he may have wasted his efforts in regard to the salvation of the Galatians. As in 2:12, the object of the "fear" is not the most basic object. In 2:12, the fear was of what those "feared" might do so that the "fear" was really a fear of the threatened "pain" to be inflicted. So also in Paul's case; his "fear" that his work would be in vain was not the bottom line of his "fear". He was not ultimately concerned about the quality of his labors; he was ultimately concerned that those labors would not be able to do for the Galatians what he really wished for them. In the former text, the "fear" was an ungodly thing and produced a terrible consequence.
- c. In our current text, Paul is not being "ungodly". Rather, he is saying that he fears the Galatians and their penchant for turning his labors into vain strivings. But, again, the more basic object of the fear was not the Galatians themselves, but the consequences of their actions. They have the capacity for destroying his achievement of his goals. He is not "selfish" in this because the consequences are not actually his to bear. He fears what will happen to the Galatians if they continue on their current path and his "fear" is "love" driven. In that sense he is "afraid" because no one can "love" without paying a very high price, as Jesus demonstrated. But, again, the fear is not "selfish" because its real object is not the pain that will be inflicted upon the one who is "afraid"; the real object is the pain that is inevitable if the Galatians continue on their path. John's "perfect love casts out all fear" is applicable here because John's focus was upon how one's love causes him/her to not be concerned about his/her own losses. Paul's focus was not upon his own losses; it was upon the losses of the Galatians. However, we have to realize that Paul's "fear" of what will happen to the Galatians does have an element in it that boomerangs back upon himself. Why does he care about what happens to them? If a person is "beloved", whatever happens to that person has a direct impact upon those who "love" him/her. The mystery here is the link between genuine, selfless, "love" and genuine, selfless "fear".
- 1) What is it in "love" that makes "fear" an inevitable, integrated aspect of it? Can one "love" another and not be "afraid" when something terrible threatens that beloved one? Yes, if the threat is beyond the capacity of the one loving. Paul's labors in regard to the Galatians were the expression of his "capacities". Clearly, those capacities were insufficient to guarantee the outcomes he sought.
- 2) But what about God's "love"? Can "love" ever be "selfless" if, in fact, it is "love"? "Love" seeks ends that the "Lover" establishes and if those ends are unmet, what happens to the "Lover"? With human beings, the consequences to the beloved are so intermingled with the consequences to the lover that the question becomes extremely difficult -- most human beings are more "afraid" of what happens to them than they are of what happens to their beloved: i.e., the parent who loses a child and spins out of control emotionally because of that loss in spite of the fact that the child is in heaven. In this case the "love" was not about the child and its experience, but the parent and its loss. But what about with God? With God, the issue is never how much He "suffers" because He willingly "suffers" without regret. Can it, then, be called "suffering" if, in reality, the sufferer does not really "mind"? Does the hurt not hurt just because one does not mind the hurt? No, "pain" is an objective reality that is "painful" regardless of the attitude one takes toward it.
- 2. The NASB attempted to give clarity with its, "I fear for you".